Israel says that it’s done with strikes on Iran — for now. France fears an escalation. Iran has its finger on the trigger. But, really, it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin who sits in the hot seat.
Where once the US would have been the brake on spikes in Syrian violence, there is a real possibility President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is greasing the wheels towards a wider regional war.
In recent months, the world’s top diplomat, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, has warned that Israeli and Iranian tit-for-tat strikes in Syria could quickly boil over to a regional conflagration.
Overnight Wednesday, rockets fired by Iranian forces from inside Syria toward Israel triggered a forewarned robust response from Israel’s military — targeting Iranian military assets in Syria.
Since early February, when Israel says it shot down an Iranian drone laden with explosives that was launched from Syria, the Israel Defense Forces have increased retaliatory strikes in Syria at Iranian targets.
Some of those strikes are reported to have killed several Iranian fighters. Yet until this point there had been no Iranian retaliation.
The sudden surge in the exchange of rockets Wednesday night — on the heels of Trump’s exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — hints that Iran has suspended its strategic restraint.
If so, the likelihood that the Iranian-Israeli confrontation will escalate increases.
In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani warned Germany, France and the UK, that they have only “a very limited time to save the JCPOA.” But he is a moderate. The Iranians fighting in Syria fall under a more hardline command.
It’s their comrades who have been killed in Israeli strikes and their patience will have worn thinner than Rouhani’s strategic politicking.